Appeal from the Vigo Superior Court. The Honorable Michael J. Lewis, Judge. Cause No. 84D06-1209-CT-8684.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: Mary Stuart White, Stanley L. White, White & White, LLC, Indianapolis, Indiana.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: R. Steven Johnson, Sacopulos, Johnson & Sacopulos, Terre Haute, Indiana.
Baker, Judge. Kirsch, J., concurs, and Robb, J., concurs in result with opinion.
[¶ 1] Nick Hunckler appeals the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of appellees Timothy Miller and Air Sorce-1, Inc., (Air Sorce-1) regarding his personal injury claim. Finding that material issues of fact exist, thereby precluding summary judgment, we reverse and remand for proceedings consistent with this opinion.
[¶ 2] At the time the action arose, Miller was the president and only employee of Air Sorce-1, an incorporated heating and air conditioning business located in Terre Haute. At some point before October 20, 2010, Miller sold a new furnace to Kelly Brannen. Prior to that sale, Miller visited Brannen's home to inspect the basement, where the new furnace would be installed.
[¶ 3] Miller delivered a new furnace to Brannen's home on October 20, 2010. At that time, Hunckler was living with Brannen. He was home when the furnace was delivered. Miller arrived with a friend who had a bad back and intended to move the furnace himself. Miller was planning to slide the furnace down the basement stairs without help, a procedure he had done many times. Miller asked Hunckler if he would help him move the furnace down to the basement. At the time of the delivery, Brannen was upstairs in the dining room using her computer. She did not witness the two men attempt to move the furnace into the basement.
[¶ 4] The two men prepared to slide the furnace down the stairs, entering through the laundry room. Miller went down the stairs first, backwards, supporting the bottom of the furnace. Hunckler waited at the tip of the stairs in the laundry room, planning to lift the furnace to help carry it down the stairs. He initially grabbed the top sides of the furnace, but felt he needed a better grip on the furnace before continuing down the stairs. The top of the furnace was open, with four edges of sheet metal. When Hunckler moved his hand to better grip the furnace at its top edges, he thought it was being pulled away from him as though Miller had taken a step down the stairs. Hunckler then fell into the furnace and his hands came into contact with the metal edges. It was approximately ten seconds from the time that Hunckler placed his hands on the furnace that he was injured. The two men did not even move the furnace one step down the stairs.
[¶ 5] At this point, Brannen heard the commotion, and Hunckler and Miller came into the dining room. Brannen observed that Hunckler was bleeding from his hands. Brannen drove Hunckler to the hospital; Miller accompanied them and assisted Hunckler with his bleeding hands.
[¶ 6] As a result of this incident, Hunckler sustained serious injuries to the webbing on his hands between his thumbs and palms. His left hand was more seriously injured; ...